Review: Hyundai Kona Electric

From £34,995

The original, award-winning Hyundai Kona Electric was launched in 2018 and facelifted in 2021. Practical, well-equipped, safe and good to drive, it offered a long EV range at an affordable price.

Fast forward to 2023 and the next-generation Hyundai Kona Electric has been introduced. As you can see from the pictures, it now has a cutting-edge design, but there are other significant changes too.

Crowned Car of the Year at the Auto Express New Car Awards, where it was also recognised as the best Small Company Car and best Small SUV, this family-sized compact crossover’s growing list of rivals includes the Kia Niro EV, MG ZS EV, Volkswagen ID.4, Jeep Avenger and BYD Atto 3.

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We drove the new Hyundai Kona Electric on various UK roads and motorways over a busy week in early winter, to find out whether it’s still one of the best-in-class.

Hyundai Kona Electric – Exterior

The all-new Hyundai Kona Electric is easily distinguishable from its predecessor thanks to its futuristic, flush front end which has been likened to RoboCop. That said the profile still has a Kona feel, while complex surfacing along the sides echoes the bigger Tucson.

At the back, the full-width lighting theme is repeated and there’s a high-set roof spoiler which is connected to the C-pillar by a clever piece of silver trim.

Overall, it has a more muscular look and there’s extra road presence, partly because it’s longer, wider and higher than the outgoing model. It also has an impressively low drag coefficient of 0.275.

There are four trim levels (Advance, N Line, N Line S and Ultimate), plus a fair range of colours, starting with standard Mirage Green. Others include Atlas White, Ultimate Red, Abyss Black and Soultronic Orange.

As with all other models in the Hyundai range, the Kona Electric comes with a generous five-year unlimited mileage warranty. Additionally, the battery pack is protected for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Hyundai Kona Electric – Interior

Inside, the Hyundai Kona Electric feels more spacious and brighter than the previous generation model, and while quality has taken a step up, there are still some hard plastic surfaces up front and it won’t trouble any premium brands.

As well as extra storage areas throughout the cabin, there’s plenty of room for adults in the back, and unlike some rivals, rear passengers can rest their feet underneath the front seats.

Hyundai Kona Electric interior

And thanks to the new Kona’s bigger proportions, boot capacity is up from 332 litres to an excellent 466 litres (1,300 litres with the back seats flipped down). There’s also a useful ‘frunk’ under the bonnet with 27 litres – perfect for storing a charging cable.

The Kona Electric has a fresh, fuss-free design up front. Thankfully, Hyundai hasn’t gone down the minimalist road and there’s a refreshing mixture of buttons, switches and dials alongside the 12.3-inch touchscreen which flows nicely into the equally large digital driver’s display.

The infotainment screen is crisp and responsive, while our test car (top-of-the-range Ultimate grade) also comes with an impressive head-up display (HUD). Naturally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is included, plus there’s a capability for Over The Air (OTA) software updates.

For more convenience, the Kona Electric can be locked, unlocked and started via the Hyundai Digital Key 2 Touch via smartphones or an Apple Watch.

Our only gripe with the technology is that there are too many bongs and bings. Some of them can be switched off or turned down, but the bottom line is that there’s a thin dividing line between safety alerts and irritation.

Overall, the cabin is a comfortable – practical and smart place to be with a suitably high driving position and good all-round visibility.

Hyundai Kona Electric – Performance and economy

Standard and Long Range models are available. The cheaper version has a 154bhp electric motor and 48kWh battery, with an official WLTP range of up to 234 miles. The Long Range version outputs 215bhp and a 65kWh battery boosts the range up to 319 miles when fitted with 17-inch wheels. However, this drops to 282 miles in the Ultimate spec which has 19-inch wheels fitted as standard.

Both motors produce 188 lb-ft of torque, though the Long Range is a second faster from 0-62mph with a time of 7.8 seconds. Other than that, there’s not much between the two options other than price, so it will all come down to that and the required range.

Our Ultimate spec test car had a 65kWh battery and bigger wheels. We achieved a decent efficiency of around 3.5 miles per kWh, which equates to some 228 miles in the real world.

The Kona Electric’s charging speed of up to 102kW (74kW for the Standard Range) isn’t class-leading, but still good, meaning a 10-80% top-up at an ultra-rapid public charger will take about 45 minutes. Naturally, if you have a home wall box, it will charge overnight.

Additionally, steering wheel paddles adjust the regenerative braking, helping you eke out those miles on downhill stretches and slowing down from speed.

Engage the new i-Pedal and you can accelerate, decelerate and stop using only the accelerator pedal. The Kona Electric also has a clever Smart Regenerative System which automatically adjusts the amount of regenerative braking based on information from forward traffic flow.

Like most EVs with decent-sized motors and batteries, it’s quick off the mark. There’s a lot of instant torque going through those front wheels, so floor it on a slippery or loose surface and the tyres will struggle for grip.

Hyundai Kona Electric – Handling

The Kona Electric is a great all-rounder. As happy cruising motorways as nipping around town, there’s even a little fun to be had on twister roads. There are three main drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport). The latter will turn the dials red and sharpen up the throttle response, Eco is fine for motorway cruises, but as ever, Normal is the best balance between economy and performance.

If I had to be picky, I’d say the second-gen Kona Electric isn’t quite as agile as its predecessor. The new car is slightly heavier and it certainly feels bigger.

Hyundai Kona Electric boot

The steering is light and the tight turning circle is ideal for manoeuvring, while the suspension does a good job of soaking up those lumps and bumps. Yes, there’s a bit of body roll in more challenging corners, but ultimately there’s an overwhelming feeling of comfort, composure and refinement.

Hyundai Kona Electric – Verdict

The Hyundai Kona Electric has always been an impressive all-rounder. The futuristic second-generation model is all grown up and sophisticated. Refined, comfortable, spacious and safe, it’s efficient, easy to drive, practical and competitively priced – just as well, because there’s some stiff competition in this compact SUV category.

Hyundai Kona Electric charging

Tech Specs – Hyundai Kona Electric

Price: £34,995
On sale: Now
Engine: 48kWh and 65kWh battery
Power: 154/215bhp
Transmission: Single-speed
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.8/8.8s
Top speed: 101/107mph
Weight: 1,773kg
Dimensions: L/W/H 4,355/1,825/1,575

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The Hyundai Kona Electric has always been an impressive all-rounder. The futuristic second-generation model is all grown up and sophisticated. Refined, comfortable, spacious and safe, it’s efficient, easy to drive, practical and competitively priced. Just as well, because there’s some stiff competition in this compact SUV category.
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Quality

3.50/5

Performance

3.50/5

Range

3.50/5

Comfort

3.50/5

Dynamics

3.00/5

Fast Facts

Price

£34,995

Battery Capacity

48-
65 kWh

WLTP Range

234-
319 miles

Maximum Power

154-
215 bhp

Torque

188 lb-ft

0-60

7.8-
8.8 secs

Top Speed

107 mph

Boot Capacity

466-
1300 litres

Pros and Cons

Refined and comfortable
Decent range
Practical
Well equipped
Could be more dynamic
Too many warning bongs
Modest charging speed
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